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About bibliometrics

Bibliometrics involves conducting statistical analyses of publications – i.e. a type of "publication measurement" (biblos: book and metron: measure). Bibliometrics is now commonly used to analyse research by performing quantitative studies on its publications.

Current practical bibliometrics is based on the assumption that the majority of research findings are published sooner or later as articles in international academic journals, and are read in that context by other researchers who then go on to cite these articles in their subsequent articles. So the more citations an article receives, the greater the impact this can be taken to have had.

So, in practice, bibliometrics involves measuring the number of published academic articles by a certain group of authors and the number of times these articles are cited, as well as studying the statistical connections between different articles, authors and subjects.

Bibliometrics at KI and SLL

In 2005, Karolinska Institutet's management decided to use bibliometrics as a tool to become Europe's premier medical university by 2010. This decision was one aspect of the KI-05 initiative. KI's bibliometrics activities began in project form at the beginning of 2006. In 2008, the project became an operational unit, funded by the Board of Research.

The primary aim of the bibliometrics unit is to give Karolinska Institutet's management the opportunity to analyse the institute's research as a basis for organisational development. The analyses are to provide an overview of the research conducted at KI and SLL, and an instrument to compare it with research from the rest of the world.

The secondary aim of the project is to provide other stakeholders within KI and SLL with the opportunity to order bibliometric analyses and disseminate information to the outside world about the quality of Karolinska Institutet's academic production and collaboration.

Since 2009, Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm County Council have had a common model for allocating direct research funding to departments and clinics on the basis of performance. Bibliometrics is one of the four components that are used to calculate the activity rate for each department, hospital and clinic.

If you want to learn more about the use of bibliometrics when allocating research funding in KI and SLL and would like a description of the method options, you can read Description of the bibliometric part of the KI/SLL resource allocation system (pdf, 444 kB) (Swedish only).

Bibliometric database

The bibliometric database contains information about international academic publications from 1995 onwards. It is based on information from the database Web of Science that is owned by Thomson Reuters.

In addition to data from Web of Science, the bibliometric database also contains data from a local copy of Medline, also from 1995 onwards. The material from Medline includes the individual article's medical subject headings, known as MeSH terms.

Currently (2015), the bibliometric database contains complete bibliographic records for c. 30 million publications. In addition, it includes all citation connections between the articles' reference lists and corresponding articles in the database, just over 440 million of them.

New records are obtained from Thomson Reuters each week and the bibliometric database is judged to be, in principle, just as up to date as Thomson Reuters' own database. Via an internal website, Bibliometric Verification Toolkit, Karolinska Institutet's own researchers can go in and verify their own publication in the bibliometric database, increasing the quality of the analyses performed.

To search in the bibliometric database for articles written at KI/SLL, there is a public interface available: KI Publications.

Publication behaviour with respect to analytical results

The primary aim of KI/SLL's bibliometric database is to provide KI/SLL's managers, wards/clinics and employees with high-quality bibliometric analyses and reports (on, for example, publication patterns, joint publication partners and/or analyses divided up by subject area).

The results provide an overview of the research conducted by KI/SLL's researchers and is a tool that makes it possible to compare academic results internally and with work taking place in other countries. Analytical results can also be used to monitor and plan activities, and sometimes to assess and reward academic quality.

Read more about KI's recommendations under Strategic publishing.

Within KI/SLL there are specific recommendations for the use of bibliometric indicators on an individual level. Bibliometric methods are less appropriate for assessing individual people or small groups. It is rare for these to achieve a publication volume that is sufficiently large for the results to be reliable and stable.

It is also important that the use of bibliometrics does not provide unwanted incentive for publication and verification. An explicit guideline for the bibliometric analyses conducted within KI/SLL is that verification of publications should not be to the individuals disadvantage.

However, with good awareness of the limitations there are at the individual level, certain bibliometric measurements can be used as a complement to a visual inspection of one person's publication history.

Read recommendations concerning bibliometrics for individual researchers in their entirety. (pdf)

Education and collaboration

Members of Karolinska Institutet's bibliometric team participate in meetings and courses in order to learn more about bibliometrics. The team wants to encourage discussion concerning the use of bibliometrics and of the advantages and disadvantages of different bibliometric methods.

Discussion and collaboration in the academic sector can lead to improvements in bibliometric methods. In turn, this can improve and refine the use of bibliometrics, both in the organisations participating and across the whole country.

Bibliometric Handbook

Förstasidan i Bibliometrihandboken.Practical bibliometrics as an instrument for monitoring activity and as a basis for decision-making is a relatively new phenomenon. Previously, bibliometrics has primarily been used for research purposes within its own discipline. This means that the various indicators are not yet completely standardised.

Therefore, the bibliometric team at the University Library have written Bibliometric Handbook for Karolinska Institutet (pdf, 15 MB) and the associated Bibliometric Indicators – definitions and usage for KI (pdf, 266 kB).

This document shows how the bibliometric team calculate different indicators, as well as their advantages and disadvantages. The handbook also contains a discussion of how bibliometric indicators and results from bibliometric investigations should be interpreted.


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The libraries at Karolinska University Hospital, Danderyds sjukhus and Södersjukhuset can also give you information and support.

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